A simple way for President Obama to belatedly fulfill his confident 2008 election promise to close Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) would be to invite all current inmates to join the First Couple at the White House. That would be an act of reconciliation and forgiveness at its most spectacular, the crowning moment of a ground-breaking presidency. His eight years have seen rapprochements with US-hating Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, so why not Gitmo inmates?
Just picture the scene: In a ceremony televised from the Rose Garden, Obama could personally apologise to each detainee and present his honoured guests with large, appropriate sums by way of compensation. That would be small consolation for their abductions at gunpoint, prolonged incarceration, and extended time away from loved ones and their important work, which is the destruction of Western society in the name of radical Islam.
What is clear is that a significant body of inmates released from Gitmo is likely to return rapidly to the cause of terrorism. But not to worry! As Secretary of State John Kerry explains in the video below, there is nothing about the release of homicidal religious fanatics which needs concern reasonable people — the sort who believe Obama to have been a competent president, at any rate.
Gitmo was a vexed solution created by frustrated people in response to a terrible problem created by evil people. But, to the extent that it took likely leaders of global terrorism out of action, it has undoubtedly saved lives. Its existence may even have encouraged ordinary citizens in countries threatened daily by terrorism to go about their lives with just a little less fear. That itself is an important goal in the battle against terrorism’s longterm strategy to undermine the will to resist of the societies it targets. (editor’s note: important to remember, too, is that the internment of David Hicks kept Australia’s compassionistas pre-occupied for an extended spell, lessening their available time to whinny about light rail or global warming or primary school crossdressers or, well, the list goes on and on.)
On the other hand, many in the commentariat have argued that the face of each inmate detained at Gitmo served as a potential recruiting poster for Al Qaeda and, later, ISIS. Further, that Gitmo’s continuing operation would inspire terrorists to target the US and its overseas interests, as if they need a reason beyond the devout belief that Allah requires them to kill infidels in wholesale lots when and where possible.
What we do know, and know for a certainty, is that Gitmo’s closure will be cause for celebration among terrorists and supporters worldwide. The event cannot be seen other than as a victory for their determination to weaken the resolve of the West in general and the US in particular. This must be viewed as likely to inspire further acts of terrorism — celebrations of radical Islam triumphant.
Assuming Gitmo is closed, a problem for the US will be what to do with further terrorists it picks up overseas. Ideally, they should be turned over to local authorities, tried in local courts and, if guilty, incarcerated. Yet the ability or will of many jurisdictions to deal with such cases may be limited. When foreign courts convict, the penalty might well be execution — a solution Gitmo avoided by indefinitely stockpiling captives, many of them inimitably rope-worthy. However, as Italy and West Germany found with the Red Brigades and Bader Meinhof, and Colombia with the Cali Cartel, conventional courts attempting to deal with terrorists risk repeated attacks, with terrible tolls and justice shaken.
None of this will bother the media’s adoring scribblers, who will be busy doing their pieces on the magnificence of Obama in emptying Gitmo and dismantling the last manifestation of the wicked “Bush doctrine”. Western countries with growing and increasingly assertive Islamic populations will find nevertheless that numbers of homegrown Islamic terrorists continue to emerge.
Obama does not say how he will deal with any of this in a post-Gitmo world, but then he won’t have to. That will be the burden of the next president, so the current recumbent had better get that Rose Garden ceremony organised quick smart. With under a year to go, his goal must surely be to garner as many accolades and as much adulation from the media’s Amen Corner as time permits. The roar of their applause might just about drown out the sound of suicide bombers detonating here, there and pretty much everywhere.